Welcome to the new school year. September is the month of transitions for people and for nature. All of the children have adapted to their classroom environment and are making new friends. The monthly newsletter is our way of informing families about what we are doing and what is coming up. Please excuse the repetition for those of you with your second, third (and fourth) child with us. However, everyone is busy and it never hurts to have a little reminder. If you have questions, please ask.
Class begins with every child removing outdoor shoes and jackets, and putting on indoor footwear. Then they walk around the room choosing the projects or activities they wish to work on. Friendships have started to form in the morning with first year students. The afternoon class are as usual, busy social butterflies. Demonstrations of materials are ongoing, and materials are changed regularly for appropriate levels for all children. It is a delicate balance ensuring younger children are not overwhelmed and older children remain interested and challenged. New children are already very comfortable with selecting activities, removing them from the shelves and returning them when finished. We have many activities that involve water, and the children collect the water from the sink and pour it back when finished. This involves a lot of balance and concentration and spills are expected. We see confidence blossoming. We maintain a daily routine to each day allowing a beginning, middle and end to each class. The routine is comforting as children come to know the rhythm of the classroom and what to expect, as well as what is expected from them. Clear boundaries and consistency are key elements for helping children with transitions.
Themes. Themes are listed on the yearly calendar, and every year begins with ‘All About Me’. Discussions involve families, family relationships, parts of the body, feelings, emotions, and moods. Respect for friends and respect for the environment. Summer is over and we now welcome autumn. Trees are changing colours, farmers are harvesting, animals are migrating, weather is cooling, and clothing is layering. Students are welcome to bring in a found autumn item, which will be placed on the nature tray. The tray may be used at a table on the floor with a magnifying glass to investigate each piece.
Curriculum. Documentation is kept for every child, marking their level of understanding and building upon that foundation. Lessons are given in small groups and on an individual basis. We have started the Sound Game with first year children and we are working on sounds and sandpaper letters with the pre-K students. We stress the use of lower case letters only. If you look at your children’s books, you will find they use lower case letters. Capital letters are for names and the start of sentences. If you are helping your child at home (yay), please remember to use lower case letters for everything except the first letter of their name. This will limit confusion and help with their reading ability down the road. We teach phonetic sounds of the letters, not the names which also promotes reading skills.
Counting and tracing sand paper numbers is the introduction to math concepts. We have a few avid fans of numbers working on the teen materials already. Wow! There are many Practical Life exercises out on the shelf, and the teachers have started sewing buttons with many of the morning and afternoon children, as well as stringing seed bead rings. All amazing fine motor skills and concentration support.
Take Home Folders. Your child’s Take-Home folder goes home with them on the last day of the week that they attend and it is to be brought back the first day of the week they return. Children do many activities in class, as well as free art that helps develop fine and gross motor skills. When folders go home at the end of each week, you may find papers that may not appear to be much more than a few scribbles and little bits of cuttings. Your child has spent a great deal of energy, time and concentration making these works while strengthening their dexterity. Please be sensitive and gentle with these precious scribbles, and bits and bobs, that your child is so proud of. Try to remember that it’s about the process, not the product.
The classroom experience and Montessori at home. Montessori teaching focuses on a child’s experience, through self-directed activity. The teacher acts as a guide, giving demonstrations, and moving about the classroom gently directing children and making helpful observations. Montessori philosophy encourages independence, and the classroom environment is tailored to this model. Independence will lead to self-confidence. Seatwork plays a lesser role in a Montessori classroom in favour of physical activity and interaction. Through self-directed activities, children will make discoveries, and build upon their knowledge. Because of this organic way of learning, teachers will make positive and supportive comments based on a child’s efforts and self-motivation rather than constant affirmations. A child’s self-esteem is built through trying new things and building skill levels. Comments on the process not product is the standard for the classroom, which is also a basic ECE principle. Simple greetings and goodbyes are a natural transition.
Children need to feel they have some power and independence should be encouraged at home. Excessive supervision is counter-productive to natural development. Age appropriate household chores and reasonable choices will bring about personal empowerment. Practical decisions could be parents choosing the food for dinner, but the child chooses how much he or she will eat. Age appropriate chores are setting the dinner table and helping load the dishwasher when dinner is finished. The Montessori mantra is “Freedom within Limits”.
Please make a note of the school calendar and dates. We follow the main Vancouver school district calendar. If unsure, please refer to your calendar hand out for dates (we have extras if needed) or ask us. We try to give advance reminders of upcoming dates with at least a week or two notice.
- Thanksgiving – Monday, October 12th
- SD39 District Closure – Friday, October 23rd
- Remembrance Day – Wednesday, November 11th
- SD39 District Closure – Friday, November 27th
- Student Led conferences will begin November 16th. This is where a parents comes in for a short 15 minute visit with their child as a tour guide. See the classroom through your child’s eyes. These will be held over two weeks. Notices and sign-up sheets will be available closer to the dates.
Things to note:
- We can send out email requests to other families for help with nanny shares, pick-ups, drop-offs, etc.
- If you have recently changed any personal contact information, or wish to add someone to the authorized pick up list, please let us know. Regular pick up changes must be informed in advance, with names and contact numbers so we may change the files
- If you have any last minute changes for pick up or drop off, please inform us by phone only. We check messages more often than emails.
- Check out Instagram @strathconamontessori
Basic Illness Protocols. It’s nice to share, but not everything. Basic illness protocol sheets have been sent home and the Vancouver Coastal Health Sneezes and Diseases book (PDF) has been emailed to all families Hard to believe but it is cold and flu season already. We have introduced the proper way to cough and sneeze and reinforce these lessons daily. Attendance sheets must also be maintained daily so please phone and leave a message if your child is ill or going to be away. It is helpful to know your child’s symptoms so we may monitor the class. Please notify the school as soon as possible if your child has a high fever or a contagious illness. When in doubt, please check your ‘Sneezes and Diseases’ book or call 8-1-1. The weather is changing and thought put into appropriate clothing comes into play for outdoor activities. Outdoor play is at the end of every class. Extra layers can always be removed. Covid-19 has changed some of the ways that we operate, however we have managed to keep most of our regular programming intact. We appreciate that all of our families are being cautious and proactive when it comes to illness. You know when your child is not behaving normally and should stay home and health monitored. Use your common sense and your parent intuition. Thank you for signing the Covid protocol sheets and checking for symptoms daily. It cannot be stressed enough how important preschool is for social and emotional health in the very young. A child’s world is small and easily tipped. All of us want to maintain good health and we are all grateful that everyone is on the same page. It takes a village. Thanks for being wonderful villagers.
Welcome to October!
Miss Lori and Miss Stacy, Miss Elizabeth (AM support), our amazing volunteer Miss Maria (PM) and Mrs. B (Cynthia)